Southern hospitality isn't just a cliche, but a way of life.
We have discovered this day after day in New Orleans, and it doesn't matter what socioeconomic status the person is in; they open their homes and lives. In multiple instances we can simply start conversations with a simple "what's your story?" Everyone has one, but here they are all defined by "before the storm" and "after the storm".
We are halfway finished with our trip, and it has quickly become a blur.
New Orleans is the case study for economic disparities. On the first night we drove through wealthy neighborhoods which were largely unaffected by "the storm", but today we visited the lower 9th ward. The stark contrast between the wealthy and the poor neighborhoods was overwhelming. But, even when we were in the 9th ward witnessing the devastation, it was easier to focus on the brand new houses which Brangelina are building through their "Make it Right" campaign than it was to wander the ruins of what was once a home. The greatest tragedy of the situation is that those most affected by Katrina were those least capable to deal with it. That's how it seems to always go, but it seems so unfair for the French Quarter (our backyard) to be so minimally affected and for others to lose everything. Finding an old digital camera in a pile of five-year-old rubble made it so real to me; both Mac and I would have given anything to see the photos that were on them, photos that proved that someone had really been in that room (which is now faint lines on concrete proving the existence of kitchen tiles).
We meet people wherever we go, and are happy to do such although we have been warned not to talk to strangers. Personal connections have been unequivocally the most important aspect of this trip, and most people we speak to ask us to carry their stories with us and share them with others.
I fully believe that were it not for the hospitality people have shown us, the trip would mean significantly less.That being said,
if anyone needs their house sanded, mudded (does that word exist outside of the construction world?) or their walls textured, let us know. We have swiftly become professionals.